How Indie Publishers are Taking on Climate Change

The global lockdowns may have provided some slight, if temporary, respite from climate damage, yet the issue remains … as a matter of scientific inquiry wrapped around a looming cultural and humanitarian crisis.

Now, important new voices are becoming louder, stronger and clearer, in the form of indie magazines dedicated to the climate issue.

“The ossified binary of climate change discourse in the United States has been grievously fractured by reality,” writes John Kazio in Eye On Design. “Out has spilled a torrent of new questions about how to exist in a society, and on a planet, in crisis. In an effort to tell the stories of our troubled climate, a number of independent magazines have set out to cover climate change not only as a scientific certainty but as a cultural and social crisis.”

Kazio has compiled an excellent round-up of publications that “make the immensity of this crisis look familiar and feel personal,” including titles like Emergence Magazine, Icarus Complex, and It’s Freezing in LA. 

Their goal? According to Kazio, it’s “to use storytelling to help readers understand that the climate crisis is not merely an event or a thing that is bound by geography or time, but an entirely new way of seeing ourselves and the Earth around us.”

The climate crisis is, after all, a story about humans and how we will adapt and survive as the climate shifts, notes Icarus Complex founder Afsaneh Angelina Raffi. Their title focuses on the people who are creating solutions, offering a more hopeful look at what’s being done.

It’s Freezing in LA, in the other hand, uses the slow journalism model to “bring readers essays at the intersection of science and activism,” Kazio continues. Naturally, there are design challenges to grapple with; how to visually represent the stories from an angle that is new enough to help the audience recognize a new idea, a new solution, rather than relying on charts, graphs and the obligatory photos of trash on beaches.

It’s heartening to see indie publishers taking on this mighty work, and finding new approaches to tell the stories that need to be shared. Check some of these titles out; maybe we can all learn something in a new way.